No single compound expanded its market in the last year or two quite like CBD did. This cannabinoid owns the year’s bragging rights for new-product diversity, after finding its way into hummus, jellybeans, lattes, water, cosmetics and even doggie treats. It’s thought by many to be a cure-all, but when it comes to health, how helpful is it really?
CBD Oil: Real or Hype?
CBD oil is the second most prevalent active ingredient of cannabis, or marijuana. However, the CBD oil sold in stores is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of the marijuana plant. Although there is not much hereditary difference between cannabis and hemp, the plants’ flowers and leaves contain different amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid responsible for getting “high.” Though research has shown some traces of THC in certain CBD oils, most do not contain any THC.
People claim that cannabis oil can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, though evidence to back up these claims is often lacking. For example, according to Medical News Today, people use cannabis oil for conditions ranging from pain to acne; some even claim the oil can cure diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Hardly anyone had heard of CBD three years ago, but now two-thirds of Americans are familiar with it, according to a recent Gallup survey. One in seven Americans use it as an over-the-counter treatment for pain, anxiety and sleep problems. They have also turned to CBD for depression, muscle spasms, digestive issues and skin ailments. One in three pet owners give it to their dogs and cats.
Researchers still don’t know how CBD works in terms of enzymatic pathways — that is, how the body eliminates CBD after intake. CBD is probably broken down in the liver, but until researchers know which enzymes are involved, they don’t know how CBD interacts with other drugs.
It’s also unclear how much CBD reaches the blood after it’s inhaled or taken orally, and whether enough reaches target tissues. And researchers still don’t have reliable data on how often to administer CBD, or in what doses.
The most common form is suspended in oil — e.g., a tincture — which has an oil dropper that you either put under your tongue or a sprayer that sprays directly into your mouth. Some people don’t love the taste of CBD or the feeling of oil in their mouths, so they prefer to take CBD capsules. Like with all supplements, there’s a lot of marketing and fluff, so make your purchases carefully.
CBD Oil Benefits
The physiological effects of cannabinoids can vary widely from person to person, and also depend on how they’re consumed. That lack of predictability is one of the reasons why cannabis oil is a challenging candidate for developing into a medicine. While there is certainly good reason to view some of the myriad of health claims with caution, there is no doubt that quite a few people are successfully treating several health issues. The following are the most common CBD oil success stories.
Pain and Inflammation
Marijuana has been used to treat pain as far back as 2900 B.C. More recently, scientists have discovered that certain components of marijuana, including CBD, are responsible for its pain-relieving effects.
The human body contains a specialized system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is involved in regulating a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. The body produces endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system. Studies have shown that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by impacting endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation and interacting with neurotransmitters.
We have receptors for cannabinoids in our whole body, but the first type (CB1) are very dense in the pain pathways of the brain, spine, and nerves. The second type (CB2) are more important for the immune system, but they are also involved in inflammation. According to some researchers, CBD may reduce both pain and inflammation through their actions on these receptors.
Sleeplessness and Anxiety
CBD oil has been safely used to treat anxiety, including sleeplessness and PTSD. CBD has the ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood and social behavior. It is similar to anti-depressants, only more natural. You must be careful to use only CBD oil to treat any anxiety-related conditions, as any traces of THC can increase anxiety and have the reverse of the desired effect.
A single CBD dose of 400 mg was linked to reduced anxiety in a brain imaging study of 10 people with seasonal affective disorder. After consuming CBD, participants experienced reduced blood flow to parts of the limbic system that are often overactive in anxiety. At the same time, blood flow to another region important for cognition and motivation (the posterior cingulate cortex) increased.
As natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, cannabinoids have the potential to provide relief of joint pain and swelling. In studies of arthritic animals, those given CBD suffered less joint destruction and slower progression of inflammatory disease.
Depression and Mood Disorders
Clinical depression is a serious mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness and loss of interest, sometimes leading to decreased appetite and energy and suicidal thoughts. Commonly used pharmaceuticals for depression often target serotonin, a chemical messenger that is believed to act as a mood stabilizer. The neural network of the endocannabinoid system works similarly to the way that serotonin, dopamine, and other systems do, and, according to some research, cannabinoids have an effect on serotonin levels.